Communication: Paragraph people versus bullet people…

Often, us creative leaders have a disadvantage where while we have ease at communication using story, visual, sounds and experiences the linear verbiage taxes our skill set. A good friend and I chatted and he bemoaned the fact of what it’s like to prepare to listen to certain people. I loved the honest conversation so I thought I would share a bit of it.

There are those of us who are paragraph people and those of us who are bullet people. Some of us analyze, process and communicate concepts and details all in one swoop. Others, take less of your time and theirs and simply bullet answers and thoughts.

I do not think there is a wrong or right way to be in this. Some of us just are thinkers and some are not. Some are feelers, and some are not. The key is knowing your audience and learning how to be comfortable with each other.

For us that lean on the paragraph side here are some things I am still learning:

  • Know your audience: why are you meeting and what is the goal of the conversation. Sometimes it kills things to not know that ahead of time, so ask if you can.
  • When surprised, be content to ask to wait to give an answer: often things get drawn out because paragraph people tend to process all the time anyway so why not on the spot. If that is not welcomed, however, it just annoys the one asking the question.
  • Watch body language: yes, look at the other party. Recently, I noticed at a meeting no one had eye contact at the start of a meeting. Obviously, to me, this said they were not interested in what I had to say. So, I suppose it would have been better to tell a joke.
  • Be authentic: an overused word but good idea. Trying too hard can lead to nervous chatting.

Anything you think is helpful above or do you have something to add?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

50 comments

  1. I am definitely a bullet point person…

  2. I am definitely a bullet point person…

  3. I am definitely a bullet point person…

  4. I am definitely a bullet point person…

  5. I am definitely a bullet point person…

  6. This caught my eye yesterday, Rich. Mostly I’m a bullet person, but want to be more of a paragraph person! I’m a little too task-oriented and need to be more people-oriented, which is how I perceive paragraphers. (I just made that word up)
    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for communication that gets right to the point. I sometimes think men are more bullet-people by nature, however, I meet exceptions to that rule all the time.

    Hm…good topic!

    1. Staci, I think the context is important. I want to be relating most of the time and when that is not needed or the time for it is when the paragrapher in me fails. Bullet people can help by seeing that need and not squashing the desire to relate while keeping the task in front.

  7. This caught my eye yesterday, Rich. Mostly I’m a bullet person, but want to be more of a paragraph person! I’m a little too task-oriented and need to be more people-oriented, which is how I perceive paragraphers. (I just made that word up)
    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for communication that gets right to the point. I sometimes think men are more bullet-people by nature, however, I meet exceptions to that rule all the time.
    Hm…good topic!

    1. Staci, I think the context is important. I want to be relating most of the time and when that is not needed or the time for it is when the paragrapher in me fails. Bullet people can help by seeing that need and not squashing the desire to relate while keeping the task in front.

  8. This caught my eye yesterday, Rich. Mostly I’m a bullet person, but want to be more of a paragraph person! I’m a little too task-oriented and need to be more people-oriented, which is how I perceive paragraphers. (I just made that word up)
    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for communication that gets right to the point. I sometimes think men are more bullet-people by nature, however, I meet exceptions to that rule all the time.

    Hm…good topic!

    1. Staci, I think the context is important. I want to be relating most of the time and when that is not needed or the time for it is when the paragrapher in me fails. Bullet people can help by seeing that need and not squashing the desire to relate while keeping the task in front.

  9. This caught my eye yesterday, Rich. Mostly I’m a bullet person, but want to be more of a paragraph person! I’m a little too task-oriented and need to be more people-oriented, which is how I perceive paragraphers. (I just made that word up)
    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for communication that gets right to the point. I sometimes think men are more bullet-people by nature, however, I meet exceptions to that rule all the time.

    Hm…good topic!

    1. Staci, I think the context is important. I want to be relating most of the time and when that is not needed or the time for it is when the paragrapher in me fails. Bullet people can help by seeing that need and not squashing the desire to relate while keeping the task in front.

  10. This caught my eye yesterday, Rich. Mostly I’m a bullet person, but want to be more of a paragraph person! I’m a little too task-oriented and need to be more people-oriented, which is how I perceive paragraphers. (I just made that word up)
    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for communication that gets right to the point. I sometimes think men are more bullet-people by nature, however, I meet exceptions to that rule all the time.

    Hm…good topic!

    1. Staci, I think the context is important. I want to be relating most of the time and when that is not needed or the time for it is when the paragrapher in me fails. Bullet people can help by seeing that need and not squashing the desire to relate while keeping the task in front.

  11. I guess even looking at my blog posts, that I can safely say I’m a paragraph person. My wife often wishes I was more of a bullet point person…

  12. I guess even looking at my blog posts, that I can safely say I’m a paragraph person. My wife often wishes I was more of a bullet point person…

  13. I guess even looking at my blog posts, that I can safely say I’m a paragraph person. My wife often wishes I was more of a bullet point person…

  14. I guess even looking at my blog posts, that I can safely say I’m a paragraph person. My wife often wishes I was more of a bullet point person…

  15. I guess even looking at my blog posts, that I can safely say I’m a paragraph person. My wife often wishes I was more of a bullet point person…

  16. As a paragrapher my biggest struggle is being to adaptable. One thing I remember from being critiqued in my Preaching and Teaching class was “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” Know your subject (simmer with it).

    1. Peter, sometimes knowing the subject means I turn into the guy from the TV show Big Bang Theory and cannot edit to the main point. 😉

      1. So when you know the subject you lose your speaking style and become narcissistic?

        1. Peter..LOL!!
          No. When I speak publicly I use a script or practice from one, btw! So, public speaking is not as much the issue for me.

          However in conversation, the context I am mainly addressing, is not usually scripted and not as predictable. Whether its my ADD, fatigue or an uncomfortable setting when one really has deep knowledge its not what is always wanted from people. Sometimes what is wanted even in bullets will not satisfy.

          Here is the bullet version anyway ;):

          – In public speaking I use a script
          – Deep knowledge of a matter can annoy
          – Conversation is hard to script
          – Even if you could, the receiving party’s agenda may not be satisfied no matter said in bullets or paragraph.

  17. As a paragrapher my biggest struggle is being to adaptable. One thing I remember from being critiqued in my Preaching and Teaching class was “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” Know your subject (simmer with it).

    1. Peter, sometimes knowing the subject means I turn into the guy from the TV show Big Bang Theory and cannot edit to the main point. 😉

      1. So when you know the subject you lose your speaking style and become narcissistic?

        1. Peter..LOL!!
          No. When I speak publicly I use a script or practice from one, btw! So, public speaking is not as much the issue for me.
          However in conversation, the context I am mainly addressing, is not usually scripted and not as predictable. Whether its my ADD, fatigue or an uncomfortable setting when one really has deep knowledge its not what is always wanted from people. Sometimes what is wanted even in bullets will not satisfy.
          Here is the bullet version anyway ;):
          – In public speaking I use a script
          – Deep knowledge of a matter can annoy
          – Conversation is hard to script
          – Even if you could, the receiving party’s agenda may not be satisfied no matter said in bullets or paragraph.

  18. As a paragrapher my biggest struggle is being to adaptable. One thing I remember from being critiqued in my Preaching and Teaching class was “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” Know your subject (simmer with it).

    1. Peter, sometimes knowing the subject means I turn into the guy from the TV show Big Bang Theory and cannot edit to the main point. 😉

      1. So when you know the subject you lose your speaking style and become narcissistic?

        1. Peter..LOL!!
          No. When I speak publicly I use a script or practice from one, btw! So, public speaking is not as much the issue for me.

          However in conversation, the context I am mainly addressing, is not usually scripted and not as predictable. Whether its my ADD, fatigue or an uncomfortable setting when one really has deep knowledge its not what is always wanted from people. Sometimes what is wanted even in bullets will not satisfy.

          Here is the bullet version anyway ;):

          – In public speaking I use a script
          – Deep knowledge of a matter can annoy
          – Conversation is hard to script
          – Even if you could, the receiving party’s agenda may not be satisfied no matter said in bullets or paragraph.

  19. As a paragrapher my biggest struggle is being to adaptable. One thing I remember from being critiqued in my Preaching and Teaching class was “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” Know your subject (simmer with it).

    1. Peter, sometimes knowing the subject means I turn into the guy from the TV show Big Bang Theory and cannot edit to the main point. 😉

      1. So when you know the subject you lose your speaking style and become narcissistic?

        1. Peter..LOL!!
          No. When I speak publicly I use a script or practice from one, btw! So, public speaking is not as much the issue for me.

          However in conversation, the context I am mainly addressing, is not usually scripted and not as predictable. Whether its my ADD, fatigue or an uncomfortable setting when one really has deep knowledge its not what is always wanted from people. Sometimes what is wanted even in bullets will not satisfy.

          Here is the bullet version anyway ;):

          – In public speaking I use a script
          – Deep knowledge of a matter can annoy
          – Conversation is hard to script
          – Even if you could, the receiving party’s agenda may not be satisfied no matter said in bullets or paragraph.

  20. As a paragrapher my biggest struggle is being to adaptable. One thing I remember from being critiqued in my Preaching and Teaching class was “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” Know your subject (simmer with it).

    1. Peter, sometimes knowing the subject means I turn into the guy from the TV show Big Bang Theory and cannot edit to the main point. 😉

      1. So when you know the subject you lose your speaking style and become narcissistic?

        1. Peter..LOL!!
          No. When I speak publicly I use a script or practice from one, btw! So, public speaking is not as much the issue for me.

          However in conversation, the context I am mainly addressing, is not usually scripted and not as predictable. Whether its my ADD, fatigue or an uncomfortable setting when one really has deep knowledge its not what is always wanted from people. Sometimes what is wanted even in bullets will not satisfy.

          Here is the bullet version anyway ;):

          – In public speaking I use a script
          – Deep knowledge of a matter can annoy
          – Conversation is hard to script
          – Even if you could, the receiving party’s agenda may not be satisfied no matter said in bullets or paragraph.

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